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The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Solicitor General Canada. Ce rapport est disponible en franais sous le titre: L'incidence de l'emprisonnement sur la rcidive.Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to J. D., Corrections Research, Department of the Solicitor General Canada, 340 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0P8. The use of prisons to control crime has increased in frequency in the last decade.
This view states that prisons are essentially "psychological deep freezes", in that offenders enter prison with a set of antisocial attitudes and behaviours which are little changed during incarceration.
This perspective also suggests that lower risk offenders may be more adversely affected by greater lengths of incarceration through exposure to an environment typically dominated by their higher risk, more hard core peers.
Fifty studies dating from 1958 involving 336,052 offenders produced 325 correlations between recidivism and (a) length of time in prison and recidivism or (b) serving a prison sentence vs. The data was analysed using quantitative methods (i.e., meta-analysis) to determine whether prison reduced criminal behaviour or recidivism.
The results were as follows: under both of the above conditions, prison produced slight increases in recidivism.
Given the unpleasantness of prison life and the negative social stigma associated with incarceration, these should serve as deterrents to later criminal behaviour.
The second, the "schools of crime" viewpoint, proposes just the opposite, that is, that prisons increase criminality.
By this account, the barren, inhumane, and psychologically destructive nature of prisonisation makes offenders more likely to recidivate upon release.
The third school of thought, which we label the "minimalist/interaction" position, contends that the effect of prison on offenders is, for the most part, minimal.
Secondly, there was some tendency for lower risk offenders to be more negatively affected by the prison experience.
The essential conclusions reached from this study were: 1.
Prisons should not be used with the expectation of reducing criminal behaviour. On the basis of the present results, excessive use of incarceration has enormous cost implications. In order to determine who is being adversely affected by prison, it is incumbent upon prison officials to implement repeated, comprehensive assessments of offenders attitudes, values, and behaviours while incarcerated. The primary justification of prison should be to incapacitate offenders (particularly, those of a chronic, higher risk nature) for reasonable periods and to exact retribution.